How likely is a future without paper?

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Today we travel to a fully digital world, a world where paper is a thing of the past.

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In this episode we talk about how likely it is that we might get rid of paper (not very) and what might happen to our reading habits, memories, and environment if we do.

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In 1864, a band of Confederate soldiers raided a very surprised town in northern Vermont.

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Seemingly safe in northern New England, the residents of St. Albans, Vermont, were astonished in October 1864 when a group of Confederate soldiers appeared in their midst, terrorizing residents, robbing banks, and stealing horses. In this week's episode of the Futility Closet podcast we'll tell the story of the St. Albans raid, the northernmost land action of the Civil War.

We'll also learn about Charles Darwin's misadventures at the equator and puzzle over a groundskeeper's strange method of tending grass.

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The baffling case of the Villisca ax murders

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Early one morning in 1912, the residents of Villisca, Iowa, discovered a horrible scene: An entire family had been brutally murdered in their sleep. In this week's episode of the Futility Closet podcast we'll describe the gruesome crime, which has baffled investigators for a hundred years.

We'll also follow the further adventures of German sea ace Felix von Luckner and puzzle over some fickle bodyguards.

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Comedians describe the tricky balance between the road and home

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The crowning paradox of the touring comic's life may be this: You have to leave home to make a name, but without the grounding and security of home you may not have anything to say. This week on HOME: Stories From L.A., three experienced comedians on striking the tricky balance between the road and home.

HOME is a member of the Boing Boing Podcast Network. If you like what you hear, please consider leaving the show a rating and/or review at the iTunes Store. 

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Thanks to Cathy Ladman, whose one-woman show, "Does This Show Make Me Look Fat?", opens soon; Brad Upton, whose upcoming tour schedule is available here; and Jackie Kashian, who can be heard on The Dork Forest and The Jackie and Laurie Show. Read the rest

Flash Forward Reveals Hidden References

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Today’s episode is a minipod, a smattering of time travel, future travel, and news about the show.

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In this episode we hear a bunch of messages from listeners: what folks think about past futures we’ve been to, and future futures we should travel to. We also do a little bit of time travel to the past, to talk about the first season of the show and hear some of the best bits from those futures. We do some announcements, and reveal a few of the hidden references from earlier episodes. A lot of people have asked me what they should be looking for, so this should help in your search.

In episode 2, Love At First Sexbot, the names of the different sex robots are references to particular people and characters. The Hadaly is named after a mechanical woman invented by a fictional Thomas Edison in the 1886 novel, The Future Eve. She’s one of the first female robots to appear in literature. The Leopold is named after Leopold von Sacher-Masoch, whose name lives on in the term “masochism.” And here’s probably the hardest one from that episode: Margot’s Discount Closet Solutions is named after a character from a Ray Bradbury short story called “All Summer in a Day.” That one was hard, I admit. In the mosquito episode, two of the names are references to Animorphs characters, and the repeated use of the number 18 points to the book in which the Animorphs turn into mosquitos. Read the rest

Will we ever live in a world without pets?

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Today we travel to a future without pets. What would it take for us to give up our fuzzy, slithery, fishy friends? Should our pets get more rights? And if we didn’t have dogs or cats, would we domesticate something else to take their place?

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In this episode we also run through a couple of possible ways we might wind up in a pet-free world. Which, to me, sound really sad. Thankfully (spoiler alert) it’s probably never going to happen.

Illustration by Matt Lubchansky

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In 1858 the Catholic Church seized a 6-year-old boy from his Jewish family.

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In 1862, a South Carolina slave stole a Confederate ship and sailed it to the Union navy.

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A Life at sea, on land

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How far would you go to rescue the remains of a bygone world you've loved since you were a kid? Peter Knego went to Alang, India, and then did it again and again, to save what he could of the great ocean liners being scrapped there. But he didn't just want to save the ships. He wanted to live in one. And to a remarkable degree he's succeeded, filling his home in Oceanside, CA with a breathtaking array of maritime memorabilia. 

This week on HOME: Stories From L.A., one man's mission to recreate, in landlocked miniature, the great days of the oceangoing ships. 

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From cancer to body odor, the future uses of the microbiome

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Today we travel to a future where your microbiome becomes a key part of your identity. From health to your child’s kindergarten, here are all the ways knowing about your microbiome might impact your life.

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In this episode we talk about the possibilities and limitations of the microbiome — the trillions of bacterial cells that live in and on your body. There’s a lot of money going towards microbiome research right now, and a whole lot of claims about what the microbiome can do. We break down what we actually know, and where we’re probably going.

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In 1918, a soldier with no ID and no memory appeared on a French railway platform.

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Former Starbucks designer on what makes a "third place" feel like home

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Suppose you wanted to design a home away from home. What would you put in? What would you leave out? What kind of seating would you have? (Soft? Hard? Low? High?) What kind of tables — big working slabs or intimate little two-tops?

A good “third place” may seem casually homey, but its design is the end result of a million tiny decisions. This week on HOME: Stories From L.A., it’s a conversation with Kambiz Hemati, who oversaw store design at Starbucks for two years and now owns Love Coffee Bar in Santa Monica, where he gets to think hard — and think small — about what makes a place feel like home.

Thanks for listening. And if you like what you hear, please subscribe and leave us a rating and/or review on the iTunes Store. 

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How would we get rid of every single mosquito?

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In this episode of the Flash Forward podcast we travel to a future where humans have decided to eradicate the most dangerous animal on the planet: mosquitos. How would we do it? Is it even possible? And what are the consequences?

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We talk to experts on mosquito ecology, public health, and a guy who’s trying to genetically engineer mosquitoes to eliminate themselves. We talk about everything from how hard it would be to exterminate mosquitoes, to which species we should target, to what the potential side effects might be. Listen for all that and more!

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Gweek 168: South Pole diary, 2-page RPG adventures, Bitcoin for the Befuddled

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Gweek is back - at least for now! For those of you who are new to Gweek, it's a podcast where the editors and friends of Boing Boing talk about media, science, science fiction, video games, comic books, board games, TV shows, music, movies, tools, gadgets, apps, and other neat stuff.

My is co-host Dean Putney, the first engineer at Glowforge and Boing Boing’s software developer. In this episode Dean and I talk about: Christine Moran’s year in Antarctica -- an email newsletter written by a scientist who is spending a year in Antarctica working on their huge radio telescope. Lots of cool photos! Bitcoin for the Befuddled - A fun book that uses analogies to explain the blockchain, cryptography, proof-of-work, mining, and other aspects of bitcoin. Highly recommended for non-technical people who want to understand bitcoin. One Page Adventures - Brilliant RPG adventures for tabletop roleplaying, designed to fit all on a single (double-sided) page. Creative commons licensed and free to download, but easy to support on Patreon. Here’s one of Dean's favorites. Boing Boing's other great podcasts! Flash Forward (a podcast about the future), Home: Stories from L.A., and You Are Not So Smart (about the way people's brains work and fail to work), and Incredibly Interesting Authors.

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What would it be like if we all wore accurate lie detectors around all the time?

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Today we travel to a future without lies. What would it be like if we all wore accurate lie detectors around all the time?

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In this episode of Flash Forward we talk about when children learn to lie, the different social functions of lying, and what might happen if we couldn’t ever fib. How would negotiations be different? How would we make small talk? Could we create art or music? All that and more in this week’s future. (Illustration by Matt Lubchansky)

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A home, a murder, a mystery (or two)

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Up in the manicured hills of Los Feliz, a neighborhood that boasts at least three famous murder houses, the one with the weirdest history may be the Perelson house... where, deep in the night of December 6, 1959, a husband and father of three lost his fragile grip and went terribly, shockingly crazy. But the story only starts there.

Why did Harold Perelson snap? What does it mean when, without warning, the safety of a family home is shattered from within? And how do you explain what's happened to the house since? 

This week on HOME: Stories From L.A., a mystery that's endured for almost 60 years, and the crime that set it in motion. 

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When will we get sex robots?

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Today we travel to the year 2086, a world where sex robots are on the market. What happens when we can buy a humanoid robot as a partner? Who wins and who loses? And where do you store the darn thing? [A note: if you listen to our show with or near young kids be aware that today’s episodes discusses the future of sex, and goes into some detail about sex toys, sex work and other sexy time things. If your kiddos are ready for a calm, reasonable discussion of sex and the sex industry, carry on! If you’re not there yet, that’s cool, but maybe skip this one.]

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In this episode we discuss everything from the warranties that a sex robot might have, to the ethical implications of owning a human form. We also discuss just how far away we are from having sex robots in the first place, something I explored a little more fully over at BBC today. What do you think? Would you use a sex robot?

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